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First ascent of the west wall of Bhagirathi IV


Legend has it that the Ganges descended from Shiva’s forehead, followed King Bhagiratha, and dug its course into a narrow and deep valley, which has since been known by the name Bhagirathi.

The Bhagirathi mountains are among the most sacred places of the Hindu religion and, at the same time, they also represent a unique challenge for mountaineers: vertical rock walls that easily reach 6,000 meters in elevation.

It is in these places that climbers from all over the world have written some of the most important chapters in the history of mountaineering. The area has been the setting for many memorable endeavors, and numerous routes have been put up here by exceptional athletes. But even today, one wall has yet to be climbed in the Bhagirathi: a piece of unspoiled rock that the countless attempts of the 1990s never managed to conquer.

We’re talking about the west wall of Bhagirathi IV (6,193 m high), a challenge that had already thwarted the Ragni di Lecco (“Spiders of Lecco”) — Matteo Della Bordella, Luca Schiera and Matteo De Zaiacomo — in September 2015.

Today, September 3, 2019 — four years after their first attempt — the three climbers again find themselves facing the same wall that defeated them once, with the intention of finally conquering it the following day. They are already preparing their plan of attack when two masses of rocks suddenly break off the top of the mountain and fall exactly along the line they want to follow, making it absolutely unusable. Twelve days later, after an unsuccessful attempt following an alternative line, the climbers need to make a decision: abandon the endeavor again, or go for broke with a fast ascent?

In the end, they head out to conquer the summit: a light and fast ascent, in an attempt to climb 800 meters in one day.

The endeavor is certainly not a trivial matter, especially considering that none of the other routes, on the other walls, have been put up in less than four days. But the three Ragni di Lecco can rely on optimal acclimatization, perfect agreement among the climbing party, and excellent equipment — light, warm and reliable. Thus, 20 hours after the start, the climbers reach the summit at 6,193 meters, completing the first, historic ascent of the west wall of Bhagirathi IV.

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